Leap Wireless and its Cricket prepaid wireless service are ready to take the national stage.
Starting Sunday, Best Buy will begin selling Cricket in 1,300 stores around the country, and not just within Leap's region.
This marks the first major step for Leap in its effort to turn into a national brand. The company previously operated its network and served customers in select markets as a regional player, but last year signed a reseller agreement with Sprint Nextel to use its network around the country.
The expansion allows Leap to tap into a much wider audience of consumers hungry for more affordable wireless service. But it also puts the company in direct competition with other national players that offer similarly attractive prepaid plans, including T-Mobile USA, Virgin Mobile, and Boost Mobile. These brands are found in both their own stores and at major retailers such as Best Buy as well.
"This was a chance to build national retail into a larger role for us," Leap Chief Executive Doug Hutchinson said in a recent interview with CNET. "I'm looking forward to building that channel."
But with competition already stiff, it's unclear if Leap can keep up. The company is in the midst of turning itself around by focusing more on smartphone customers and truly flat-rate plans, much like fellow regional prepaid provider MetroPCS. But the company is still early in its turnaround, having lost more than 100,000 customers in the last quarter. … Read more